The European Commission has dropped restrictions on the movement of Belgian poultry after further tests showed avian influenza was not present at a farm near the Dutch border.
In the Netherlands, however, the existing protective measures have been prolonged until 27 March with some changes in the possible movements of poultry within the country.

Suspicion that the outbreak of avian influenza had spread to Belgium arose on 11 March in the province of Antwerp, close to the Dutch border. The Belgian authorities immediately put in place protective measures and the Commission on 12 March adopted EU measures, including a nation-wide standstill for the transport of live poultry and hatching eggs and a prohibition on dispatching any live poultry or hatching eggs from the whole territory of Belgium. The measures contained in the Commission Decision were applicable until 20 March 2003 unless the suspicion was officially ruled out by laboratory testing.

In view of the epidemiological situation in the Netherlands, the Belgian authorities stated they would maintain an increased awareness situation. The buffer zone, installed by the Belgian authorities, will be maintained until the last virological test has been completed.

In the Netherlands, the restrictive measures were extended from a possible end-date of 20 March until 27 March at midnight. However, the movements within the Netherlands have been slightly eased. From 21 March onwards, poultry for immediate slaughter including spent laying hens, day-old chickens and pullets and hatching eggs may be transported within the Netherlands in areas outside the surveillance zones. The situation and the measures adopted will be reviewed on 25 March.